My opinion is that the first part of the tribulation is very near. We are at the threshold of the end times. But the end of the end times is hundreds of years in the future. Here is the outline of future events:
* First part of the tribulation (21st century)
* Brief time of peace and holiness (21st century)
* Inter-tribulation period (21st to 25th century)
* Second part of the tribulation (25th century)
* Return of Jesus Christ (25th century)
The earliest events of the tribulation include a great apostasy, in which most persons who call themselves Catholic leave the Catholic Church, and then soon fall away from Christianity altogether. We can see the beginnings of this process already unfolding.
Most Catholics believe whatever secular society teaches them, even in contradiction to Church dogma. They no longer believe that the Bible is infallible, that the Magisterium teaches with authority from God, or that the Saints are a sure guide to our lives. They have fallen away from the teachings of the Church on sexual ethics, so much so that most Catholics are guilty and unrepentant from many objective mortal sexual sins.
Conservative Catholics consider themselves to be bastions of orthodoxy. But when God put them to the test by giving them a liberal Pope, many preferred their own understanding over that of the Vicar of Christ. Many refuse to be taught and corrected by the Supreme Pontiff. The conservative Catholic subculture has set itself up as a type of replacement for the Magisterium, as if it were infallible, as if it had the role to teach and correct the Church and the Pope.
At some point very soon, Pope Francis is going to issue a decision on doctrine or discipline which will cause many conservatives to fall away completely from communion with the Pope. (In fact, more than a few conservatives have already committed formal heresy, though they still pretend to be in communion with the Roman Pontiff.) This will happen very soon. Many conservative leaders will declare the Pope to be a heretic, and will depart from communion with him. They will thereby incur automatic excommunication. They will be joined by a few Cardinals, some Bishops, more than a few priests, deacons, and religious, and a large number of lay persons. They will end up in a situation much like the SSPX, claiming to be faithful Catholics who are preserving the true Faith, yet separated from the Roman Pontiff.
The next Pope (after Francis) will be very conservative. He will put the liberal Catholics to the test by requiring them give up their grave sins in order to receive Communion, in order to have teaching positions, in order to be clerics and religious, in order to call themselves Catholic. And they will reject him and the Church, rather than give up the teachings of sinful secular society which they have long treated as dogma. Since many more Catholics are liberal than conservative, this departure from the Faith will be even more substantial. Many parishes will be forced to close, for lack of priests and lay persons. Many dioceses and parishes will be thrown into a severe financial crisis.
As a result of these two departures, the Church will suddenly become much smaller and much holier. Those who remain in the Church will learn the Faith with an insight and depth that is currently very uncommon. And eventually many of those who departed will repent and return.
Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.